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Saturday, 19 January 2019

Classic Rant: Real Magick In RPGS: Space Gods!

Yesterday's "classic rant" gave you some very tiny glimpse of the weirdness that can be one's life when one plunges deep down the high magick rabbit-hole. Of course, that's 'material' weirdness, which takes the form mostly of what Jung called "synchronicity", combined with what Peter Carroll calls "apophenia" (the power of finding connections in things that do not appear to be connected). Both of these, to someone who is outside the experience, seem like they could amount to nothing at all really happening; sometimes to those inside the experience the same doubt is left planted.

But its when you get to the non-material level that cosmic-scale weirdness comes into play: conversations with what Crowley called "praeterhuman intelligences", and astral trips to insane psychedelic visions. That's the stuff no one but the magicians can experience, though sometimes the effects it produces on Earth do. So I thought I'd share a bit about the level of craziness that these kinds of things can get up to in the real recent history of occultism, so you know just what kind of thing you could put into a "realistic" magical campaign:

Take today, for example. Today (March 20th) is the Equinox (spring, for those of you in the northern hemisphere, autumn for those down in the south). The Equinox is a cosmic event, the moment where there is a perfect balance of light and dark; it was important to the ancient pagans since we first started figuring out the stars. Most modern neo-pagans celebrate it as a fertility or harvest festival (in spite of most never having planted or harvested anything more serious than a pot plant in their life), for Thelemites and magicians, this is remembered as the celebration of the "Equinox of the Gods".

Back in March 20, 1904, the apocalypse happened. 
Aleister Crowley was on his honeymoon with his wife Rose in Egypt. This being 1904 where if you were rich and British you could do any fucking thing you wanted, Crowley actually arranged for the two of them to spend the night in the King's Chamber of the motherfucking Great Pyramid.
At this time, Crowley had kind of given up on his old magical training, and was mainly a Buddhist, but he couldn't resist the temptation of doing some little magical ritual inside the ancient pyramid; so he tried to summon up some sylphs.

This would be such a significant moment that future Thelemites would produce art about it:

That was when Rose, who had no experience in magick or knowledge on the subject, started to experience some odd states where she claimed to Crowley that the god Horus was looking for him. Crowley, more annoyed the credulous, proceeded to perform a dozen tests on her to try her claim, all of which she passed, guessing at details about Horus that a woman of her education had no hope of knowing. This led to Crowley performing a grand invocation of Horus on March 20, 1904, a ritual that broke all the regular "rules" of magick, following the precise instructions given to him by his non-magician wife; and from this Crowley made contact with a being called Aiwass, who was both Crowley's Augoeides (his "Holy Guardian Angel", his higher self) and a messenger of the god Horus. And by "made contact" I mean that according to Crowley's own description he was literally hearing Aiwass speak to him in a strange voice from the left corner of the room.

Crowley was told that this act has marked the "Equinox of the Gods", the end of the previous Aeon or age. But this is more than just a calendar question (though indeed this is the Thelemic New Year), the end of an Aeon means the end of all collective reality as it is understood, the end of the way human beings relate to the world. It's a fundamental "Paradigm Shift"; in this case, away from the Aeon of Osiris (which was typified by the relationship between humanity and the divine being a parent-child relationship) into the Aeon of Horus (being humanity's "adolescence", where the childlike attitude toward creation is gradually abandoned, and humanity begins to "play god" for themselves; learning how to control its own physical and spiritual evolution). 
Crowley had essentially experienced the "end of the world", and the start of a new one. That would only be the start of his strange experiences in Cairo; the Thelemic Holy Season runs from March 20 (the Great Invocation of Horus and the Equinox of the Gods) until April 8th, 9th, and 10th, when Crowley received the Book of the Law, in a magical dictation from Aiwass; which, even if you don't believe a word of it, would still have to classify as a truly astounding feat of automatic writing. The Book of the Law is a SAN-burning holy book full of strange visions, numerical tricks and mysteries, Egyptian imagery, and the declaration and details of a profound moral philosophy of self-transformation, the law of Thelema, which governs the new Aeon.

So anyways, back to that ritual in the pyramid: here we have an ancient structure (Great Pyramid) meant to align with astronomical details, and Crowley unleashed something inside it. That something was apparently Horus. To a magician, a god like "horus" wouldn't be thought of as some literal dude with a hawk-head living in a physical heaven; rather, this would be a "discarnate entity", an "intelligence" that represents a set of ideas, a kind of archetype. 

Except of course, there are a few magicians who think that the Gods are literally:

That is, more accurately, hyper-advanced extra-dimensional beings who are trying to communicate with us as part of a plan for human evolution, or possibly for some other far more crazy shit.

Did I say "Crazy Shit"? That means Kenneth Grant, the Cthulhu-worshiping insane last-disciple-of-Crowley's can't be far behind! I mean, the guy already literally venerated the Great Old Ones and believed that the Cthulhu mythos was real, and they're a kind of alien, so no surprise that he would be into aliens too.

He was actually into aliens first, they're what led to most of his nuttiness. Why? Because Crowley was once nice to him and gave him a painting. But I'll save that for tomorrow's entry.


(Originally posted March 20, 2014)

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Medieval-Authentic Folk-Magic Spells!

In my RPGPundit Presents series I've already provided a number of sourcebooks that provide whole mini-systems of magic, meant to be extensions to the magic system of Lion & Dragon but usable in any OSR game.   These are all based on real medieval-authentic sources of how people in the middle ages and very early Renaissance imagined magic to work. Most of these have been based on the magical rituals in period-authentic Grimoires. They've also covered specific occult techniques like medieval astrology and the Tarot.

But all of those were focused on what you could call the 'high magic' of the erudite classes. I've also done a few issues that were dedicate to magic out of legend, the magic attributed to fairies and witches and druids, like glamour or enchantment magic

Now, I'm presenting something else. In  RPGPundit Presents #63: Miscellaneous Medieval-Authentic Spells, I'm giving you a list of 20 different unusual magical rituals mainly drawn from the real folk-magic of the era. Not the kind of stuff that ends up in the academic grimoires, but that are recounted from other sources.

Miscellaneous Medieval-Authentic Spells includes guidelines for how these rituals can be mechanically run in an OSR system, ways that your wizards could gain these rituals, and options for who could use them.

Then you get a whole set of very unusual but very historically accurate sorts of rituals for all kinds of unusual purposes.  There is:

-A ritual involving cheese to prove if someone's a thief

-A ritual involving a bat to summon a horse

-A ritual involving a rose to stop bleeding

-A ritual with a magic charm to make someone pregnant

-A circle-casting ritual to protect you against missile weapons

-A cloak ritual to protect you from lightning

-A crystal ritual to win debates at the Court

-A toad ritual to get across a river.

-A stone ritual for battle-magic

-A serpent ritual to kill an oath-breaker

And ten others!

So don't miss this one, be sure to check out RPGPundit Presents #63: Miscellaneous Medieval-Authentic Spells, from DTRPG, or available from the Precis Intermedia Web Store!

And while you're at it, be sure to pick up the rest of the great supplements in the RPGPundit Presents series:

RPGPundit Presents #1: DungeonChef!

RPGPundit Presents #2: The Goetia  (usable for Lion & Dragon!)

RPGPundit Presents #3: High-Tech Weapons

RPGPundit Presents #5: The Child-Eaters (an adventure scenario for Lion & Dragon!)

RPGPundit Presents #17: The Hunters (an adventure for Lion & Dragon!)

RPGPundit Presents #21: Hecate's Tomb (an adventure for Lion & Dragon!)

RPGPundit Presents #54: Medieval College Adventures (compatible with Lion & Dragon)

RPGPundit Presents #58: Expanded Prior History Tables  (compatible with Lion & Dragon!)

Stay tuned for more next week!


Currently Smoking: Mastro De Paja Rhodesian + Image Virginia 

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

"Starbucks Setting" D&D Fans can Only Imagine Broken or Crazy Heroes

Here's a new video, talking about how the advocates of 2018-Seattle-values D&D "starbucks settings" can't imagine anyone being heroic for reasons other than their being crazy, or broken.

Also, more hilarity has ensued from the Critical Role crowd and their fan-kids.

Check it out!


Currently Smoking: Neerup Hawkbill + Image Virginia

Monday, 14 January 2019

Wild West Campaign Update: The Oncoming Storm

This session began with the receiving of death threats. Crazy Miller found a note in front of his door, warning him that if he didn't leave tombstone now, this town would be his grave. He went to report and found out that all three Earp brothers had also received death-threat notes. Later on, they'd discover that Judge Wells Spicer, the judge who had exonerated them of any culpability in the OK Corral shootout, was also sent a note (one which he replied to defiantly in a letter published by the Tombstone Epitaph); as was Doc Holliday. Kid Taylor also claimed he'd gotten a note but he hadn't, he just felt put off by the notion that he wasn't important enough to the Cowboys for them to threaten him with death. Finally, Tombstone Mayor John Clum also received a note, but deigned it of no importance and didn't tell anyone.

The party also discovered some stunning news in the papers: their old companions Dirty Dave Rudabaugh and John Joshua Web (the psychopath who had a special sort of friendship with Crazy Miller that no one else could understand) had managed to break out of jail and were on the lamb. They were being hunted all over New Mexico and wanted posters were issued for them in Arizona as well. It was presumed they were planning to flee to Mexico. But Crazy Miller was absolutely sure that John Joshua Webb was coming straight for Tombstone.

This posed a bit of a quandary to the town lawmen. They all knew the outlaws, and they also knew about Crazy Miller's friendship with Webb, but they all agreed that there was no getting out of the fact that if they saw either fugitive, they'd be obliged to arrest them. They made sure Crazy Miller realized this, and that whatever happened he wouldn't be able to expect them to break the law for his or Webb's behalf. However, Bat Masterson was under no such compulsion, as he was not presently a lawmen. Rudabaugh and Webb had both been part of his gang (along with several of the player characters) during the Royal Gorge Railroad War, and he felt an obligation to help them if they needed it. He made it clear to Miller that he was ready to help if need be.

A couple or days later, Mayor Clum went off on some personal business to Benson, via stagecoach. Not long after his departure, dark clouds were spotted on the horizon. A storm was coming. It would actually be the first time since the PCs arrived in Tombstone that it was going to rain.

On that same day, Crazy Miller woke up to find John Joshua Webb in his room. As he thought, Webb had come looking for him, but because he needed Miller's help to escape to Mexico. Miller had a dream of John Joshua coming back to stay and being part of his crew, but of course he and Rudabaugh were wanted everywhere. There's no way that Miller could realistically protect them. So he agreed he'd get them to Mexico.

Begging Webb to stay in the hotel and not murder anyone, Miller went off to find Bat Masterson, which he did, and had him go to dead tree ridge, where Dirty Dave was hiding out, and in a few hours (when his absence wouldn't be as notable, as people were going home early and preparing to lock up and batten down their properties against the rainstorm) Miller and John Joshua would join them and they'd head down Mexico way. He also stopped to get John Joshua an ice cream from Tombstone's new Ice Cream Parlor, mainly to make sure Webb didn't get it into his head to go himself (visions flashed through Miller's head of an "Ice Cream Parlor Massacre").

Meanwhile, the lawmen had received a troubling telegram from the Wells Fargo office in Benson: the stagecoach Mayor Clum was riding on had been attacked. The stagecoach driver was dead, and Mayor Clum's current whereabouts were unknown! The Earps knew they'd have to send someone, but they were very worried about leaving Tombstone too vulnerable, and also about the Cowboys ambushing them on the way. In the end, they decided that they would have Deputy Bassett go, since he was an experienced tracker, and Jeff Young with him. Neither of them had received Death-Threat letters, so the lawmen hoped they wouldn't be as likely to get attacked. They also took Kid Taylor, both for his medical skills and because he was the closest thing the Mayor had to a friend. They went looking for Bat too, but no one seemed to know where he was. They asked Crazy Miller and he gave an odd answer. As soon as they went to get themselves ready, Crazy decided to leave and rush off with John Joshua Webb to meet up Dirty Dave and Bat.

Unfortunately, Bassett's posse was going the same direction, through dead tree ridge, to avoid the main roads where Cowboys might be waiting in ambush. The lawmen's group saw, but could not identify, the outlaws group up ahead. The outlaws decided to get to galloping away, but the Lawmen now thought it might be a group of Cowboys running from them and decided to pursue.

Desperate to get away and avoid a confrontation between friends, Bat Masterson hatched on a plan. He had been told by Dirty Dave that Rudabaugh was actually friends with the Clanton brothers and had planned to hide out with them as a backup, and maybe even become a Cowboy. So he told everyone to split up. Dirty Dave would ride west toward the Clanton ranch and seek refuge with them (after all, giving the Cowboys Dirty Dave was likely to only end up hurting them in the long run, he reasoned), while Crazy and Webb would keep fleeing south to Mexico, and Bat himself would turn around and delay the lawmen long enough for the others to get away.

When Bat faced the Lawmen, he was surprised to realize that none of them had realized who was riding ahead of them, and they were surprised to run into Bat Masterson, rather than some cowboy. He took advantage of that, and claimed he had been riding with a group of bounty hunters searching for Dirty Dave and Webb. He then offered to join up with Bassett, Kid Taylor and Jeff Young to go looking for what became of Tombstone's Mayor. They rode as far as they could toward Benson, and then took cover in tents when the rain started to come down hard.

That night, Tombstone was getting covered in rain and thunder. The streets were mostly abandoned. Other Miller and Morgan Earp were playing billiards, the Billiard Hall's only customers. Suddenly, someone comes rushing in to tell them that Virgil Earp has been shot!  They rush to Doctor Goodfellow's clinic and find Wyatt there. Virgil had been looking for Bat, passed by the Oriental, left, and a few minutes later came back in and collapsed, bleeding severely. He'd been shot four times with shotgun buckshot from about 60' away, according to Goodfellow, and had more than 20 pieces of shot in his back and left arm. Goodfellow feared the arm would need to be amputated.

Wyatt sent Other Miller to the Grand Hotel to pick up Allie (Virgil's wife) and make sure the other women were alright. Miller confirmed they were, and was returning with Allie when he came across Texas Jack Vermillion. He had heard the news and (being Wyatt's friend) offered to keep watch on the hotel in case anything happened.

Then, when Other and Allie were getting back to the clinic, they spotted two Cowboys! They were Sherman McMaster and Turkey Creek Jack Johnson. They had their hands up and Sherman told Other quite a tale: apparently, he had been a spy for Virgil Earp the whole time. He said that Virgil, Charles Bassett or James Young could all confirm this, but the other two men weren't in Tombstone!  As for Turkey Creek, he said Bat Masterson (also not in town) had been trying to get him to quit the Cowboys for some time now, and the threat on Judge Spicer and now the back-shooting of Virgil was more than he could stand. He threw his red sash onto the muddy ground. They both said they were here to help.

Other told them to wait there and warn for more cowboys, still not sure what to think. He got Allie up to Goodfellow's office, and as Virgil was conscious again, he quickly asked him and Virgil confirmed Sherman's story. Allie was adamant that Goodfellow tried to save Virgil's arm, and Goodfellow agreed, though he warned that in all likelihood that arm would still be all but useless, and that if infection developed it would just need amputation later. Virgil said that if any doctor in the world could save him it was Goodfellow, and so he got to work.

By the next morning, none of the PCs outside of town had heard about any of this. Crazy Miller and John Joshua Webb were still en route to the border. And Bassett's team had woken up to see a rare blooming desert after last night's storm had passed. They headed toward the road and to the Wells-Fargo waystation. When they got there, the stationmaster had an astounding tale to tell.
Apparently, three masked but cowboys had set upon the stagecoach aiming to kill Mayor Clum. They shot and fatally wounded the driver, but Clum was armed, and shot back with such skill as to frighten them off. Then he somehow got up on top of the coach and drove it to the waystation. And then, figuring that if he stuck around more cowboys would come to kill him endangering innocent lives, he headed out on foot across the desert, heading back toward Tombstone!

Of course, even though Clum looked like a short unimposing bald middle-aged man, he was actually a famed Indian Agent, an expert survivalist and tracker, a pretty decent shot, and the man who captured Geronimo; so his notion wasn't as plumb loco as it had first sounded. Bassett figured that Clum was likely to still be out there in the desert, and if they followed that way they might find him; though Clum wasn't making it easy for them as he'd very carefully concealed his tracks so that the Cowboys couldn't find him.
They rode out, and it took the better part of the day, but eventually they caught up with him, and were quite glad to give him a ride back toward Tombstone.

While that had been going, and Virgil was recovering from surgery, the other two Earp brothers along with Doc Holliday, Other Miller and Sherman McMaster were trying to find evidence that might identify who shot Virgil. McMaster had noticed buckshot that hit Miller's Brewery, across from the Oriental, and at an angle that indicated that an unfinished building kitty-corner from the Oriental was the likely spot of the attack, from the second floor.  They got up there and found a hat they were pretty sure was Ike Clanton's. McMaster figured that if it was the Clanton brothers, and they believed Virgil dead, they wouldn't just go back to the Clanton ranch right away, they'd likely try to hide out in the cowboy-controlled town of Contention. Wyatt got himself deputized as a US Marshal, got a warrant, and got together a posse of himself, Morgan, Other Miller and Doc Holliday, and rode out in that direction. They got as far as Charleston when they got word by telegraph that Ike Clanton, his brother Phin, and Pony Diehl had all turned themselves in, back in Tombstone! Having heard of the warrant, they'd surrendered themselves to (cowboy ally) Johnny Behan, to avoid the risk of being shot by the Earps.

As for Crazy Miller, he got John Joshua Webb across the Nogales and into Mexico. He was sad, not sure when or if he'd see his friend again.

So in the end, Virgil would survive but would take months to recover. Mayor Clum was unharmed but could not identify his attackers. The Clantons would stand trial but even if Judge Spicer were to hear the case, the PCs were not very confident of the likelihood of a conviction, with nothing more than a hat and word of mouth for evidence. The Cowboys had gotten a taste of revenge. The question was, what would happen next?


Currently Smoking: Neerup Egg + Image Virginia

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Check Out the Scorched Coast!

So today, I share with you a fantastic free online sourcebook for Dungeon Crawl Classics.

I didn't make this myself, but some people I know did, and one of them is the (Unkillable) Catboy from my Last Sun campaign.

So check it out. The price is right and if you like DCC I think you'll agree that this is absolutely a perfect supplement for it!

The Scorched Coast


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Oversize + H&H's Walnut

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Will Venger Actually Write a real OSR Book Again?

It appears so.

Here's the story: several years ago, Venger Satanis (my Inappropriate Characters co-host) wrote one single OSR product. But it was a really great one: The Islands of Purple Haunted Putrescence.

Seriously, if you like gonzo weird fantasy hexcrawls, get that book. It's awesome! It's way way more amazing than Carcosa, which was really pretty dull and repetitive and felt randomly-rolled. The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence kick its ass.

But sadly, it was his only OSR product.  After that, he did a series of games and supplements for a very creative (if a bit too sex-obsessed) setting called Alpha Blue; which was interesting, but he ruined it by using a non-OSR dice-pool system. And made things worse by trying to claim it was OSR and sell it as if it was OSR.

Bad form, Venger.

But now, after years of me pushing for him to do it, Venger is finally coming back to the OSR with a planned new product (currently being kickstartered) called Cha'alt! It's another weird gonzo fantasy world, which will apparently include a kind of megadungeon. And it's going to be for OSR and 5e games.

Will it really? I know, in the past he's said stuff was OSR that was obviously not OSR by the definitions of 95% of people in the OSR, but this time Venger has assured me that he's really making it as a mostly system-neutral book that will be designed for OSR and 5e play.

OK, good enough. I'll have to take his word for it, for now.

Anyways, check out that kickstarter. Because I would really like to see a new Venger OSR book. A real one.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti poker + H&H's Walnut

NOTE: I am not in any way paid for this blog entry, or involved personally with his book nor profit from it in any way (other than good gaming material if it sees print).  Just wanted to make sure you didn't think this was a paid ad.

Friday, 11 January 2019

Livestream: Is Capitalism Bad for D&D/RPGs?

In tonight's lengthy livestream, I covered a wide range of topics, in the overall subject of whether it is better for the D&D hobby to be centered around a capitalist system of people trying to make books for profit, or if it would be better to have a hobby where no one made any products intended for sale.

Along the way we talk about lengths of campaigns, about the problem of "Starbucks Settings" and how certain people in the hobby want to make every setting look exactly alike, about how trying to write a commercial product can make you a better GM, about the importance of actual play, and how the notion of "you have to run games with your friends" is bullshit. Plus much more!

As always, it's going to be spicy with controversial material! check it out:


Currently Smoking: Neerup Acorn + Image Virginia